Africa / Agriculture / BecA / Biotechnology / Burundi / Central Africa / East Africa / Ethiopia / ILRI / Kenya / Rwanda / Tanzania / Uganda

Swedish-funded Bio-Innovate Program tackling 6 ‘orphan’ food crops of East Africa

Joyce Ledson

Portrait of Joyce Ledson, a farmer growing four ‘orphan’ food crops of the poor—beans, cassava, potato and sweet potato—as well as the ubiquitous maize, in Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

‘. . . Six orphan crops chosen for a five-year programme called Bio-resources Innovation Network for Eastern Africa Development (Bio Innovate) are sorghum, millet, cassava, sweet potatoes, potatoes and beans.

‘The programme is to be managed by the International Research Livestock Institute (ILRI) at their Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa (BeCA) hub.

‘Segenet Kelemu, a plant pathologist at BeCA, said the crops were chosen for their pro-poor characteristics, which include limited investment, drought and disease resistance, and are being promoted in six countries to maximise benefits of the programme. . . .

‘This five year Bio Innovate initiative in East Africa is funded by the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA) to the tune of $16m and is the first of its kind in Africa.

‘It will also help farmers to improve the processing of waste from sisal and coffee production, and safely treat waste water from leather tanneries and slaughterhouses.

‘Besides Kenya, other countries covered by the Bio Innovate project are Burundi, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda.

‘“Bio Innovate . . . is at the heart of the region’s greatest challenges—providing enough food in the face of climate change, diversifying crops and addressing productivity constraints . . . threatening the livelihoods of millions,” said Carlos Seré, ILRI’s director general.

‘Speaking during the launch of Bio Innovate at ILRI’s headquarters in Nairobi last week, programme manager Seyoum Leta said “we can help build a more productive and sustainable regional bio resources based economy.”

‘Leta noted the programme was key to pro-poor economic growth.’

Read the whole article at Business Daily (Kenya): Researchers target orphan crops in EA food security drive, 22 March 2011.

And read of other news clippings about the recent launch at ILRI of the Bio-Innovate Program.

See also this from News from Africa: New programme to fight food security and climate change, 17 March 2011.

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